So you're gearing up for a business trip overseas. You've activated an international calling plan, located your passport, and lined up your sales calls. Unfortunately, there just isn't time to learn the language. In most countries, the people you meet with will be able to speak English, but knowing some key phrases in their language will go a long way towards cementing an excellent working relationship. Here are some of the most helpful phrases to master before you go:
1. Hello/Goodbye/Please/Thank you. While perhaps these seem obvious, many people do not take the time to learn them before stepping off the plane. Just being able to say hello to the customer service rep at the hotel desk or thank you to the receptionist who takes your name when you arrive at the office for your meeting will go a long way toward creating a pleasant experience.
2. My name is... and What is your name? Being able to introduce yourself starts a conversation off on the right foot.
3. Where is the bathroom? You definitely don't want to be pantomiming this one, so get it mastered before you arrive.
4. May I have..... or I would like...Either of these phrases paired with a few common requests like water, beer, wine, sandwich, or napkin will enable you to navigate a restaurant. You can even start with "may I have" and then point to what you want on the menu if need be. Just by knowing the opening phrase, you'll seem more civilized and more in control at a business lunch or dinner.
5. Excuse me and I don't understand. At times, especially in larger meetings, you may find that the host group subsides into their own language. If you can interject with excuse me in their language, you'll get the conversation back on track politely.
6. Cheers! or another local toast phrase. Undoubtably, the host will want to take you out for dinner some night. Offer a toast to your host in his language. This lets him know that you appreciate his country and customs.
7. I'm looking for... This can be extremely useful for finding an office, a particular person, a souvenir, a place for lunch, your hotel, etc.
8. Numbers to 10 and How much does this cost? These will help you with paying the bill, buying presents for home, and understanding which floor to take the elevator to when you arrive at the office.